all-apologies
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Hello,

I was wondering to what extent achieved A levels cancelled out poor GCSEs, if at all? I've heard some say the good can outweigh the bad and others say that A levels are unimportant after reaching the requirements and that the GCSEs are the determining factor for choosing who gets invited to interview, which then becomes the dominant factor (or not, again depending on who you listen to!) Are there any definitive answers? I haven't been able to find any on the English dept site, other than GCSEs are assessed contextually. I got mine in a state grammar school - 9999866644 - and was probably in the top two thirds of my year, but my A levels (achieved) - A*A*A* - were top of my year. Any advice or insight would be great!!

Thank you 🙂
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Native087
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Depends what you want to do with the qualifications, you're a levels are amazing - so you will have no trouble finding a uni course/apprenticeship which require the knowledge you have. The most important thing from GCSEs is the maths and eng, if you have 4s in both you're good to go. I think some apprenticeships require levels 5s, but most uni courses will be a level 4, barring english/maths courses.
You can do pretty much anything with your grades.
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all-apologies
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(Original post by Native087)
Depends what you want to do with the qualifications, you're a levels are amazing - so you will have no trouble finding a uni course/apprenticeship which require the knowledge you have. The most important thing from GCSEs is the maths and eng, if you have 4s in both you're good to go. I think some apprenticeships require levels 5s, but most uni courses will be a level 4, barring english/maths courses.
You can do pretty much anything with your grades.
I'm not interested in an apprenticeship, I'm interested in my chances at Oxford and other selective unis. I have a 4 in maths and 9s in both Englishes.
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Native087
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(Original post by all-apologies)
I'm not interested in an apprenticeship, I'm interested in my chances at Oxford and other selective unis. I have a 4 in maths and 9s in both Englishes.
Good luck mate, great place to be. As long as you're not looking at scientific/mathematical courses I think you have a very good chance.
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Azotic02
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(Original post by all-apologies)
Hello,

I was wondering to what extent achieved A levels cancelled out poor GCSEs, if at all? I've heard some say the good can outweigh the bad and others say that A levels are unimportant after reaching the requirements and that the GCSEs are the determining factor for choosing who gets invited to interview, which then becomes the dominant factor (or not, again depending on who you listen to!) Are there any definitive answers? I haven't been able to find any on the English dept site, other than GCSEs are assessed contextually. I got mine in a state grammar school - 9999866644 - and was probably in the top two thirds of my year, but my A levels (achieved) - A*A*A* - were top of my year. Any advice or insight would be great!!

Thank you 🙂
I think you would have a considerable chance of getting into all of the universities listed above with the exception of oxford. I heard somewhere oxford's average student achieves 8A*'s at GCSEs (8 8-9 grades). However, it would be stupid to say you have 0% chance of achieving a place since you have 3 A*'S at A level. Amazing grades; well done! Your hard work definitely paid off!
Last edited by Azotic02; 1 month ago
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OxFossil
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(Original post by all-apologies)
Hello,

I was wondering to what extent achieved A levels cancelled out poor GCSEs, if at all? I've heard some say the good can outweigh the bad and others say that A levels are unimportant after reaching the requirements and that the GCSEs are the determining factor for choosing who gets invited to interview, which then becomes the dominant factor (or not, again depending on who you listen to!) Are there any definitive answers? I haven't been able to find any on the English dept site, other than GCSEs are assessed contextually. I got mine in a state grammar school - 9999866644 - and was probably in the top two thirds of my year, but my A levels (achieved) - A*A*A* - were top of my year. Any advice or insight would be great!!

Thank you 🙂
An achieved A*A*A* kicks the 4 in GCSE Maths into touch and stomps all over it. I would be amazed if Oxford declined you an interview on that basis.
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all-apologies
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(Original post by Azotic02)
I think you would have a considerable chance of getting into all of the universities listed above with the exception of oxford. I heard somewhere oxford's average student achieves 8A*'s at GCSEs (8 8-9 grades). However, it would be stupid to say you have 0% chance of achieving a place since you have 3 A*'S at A level. Amazing grades; well done! Your hard work definitely paid off!
Okay, thank you! Seeing as my 4 in maths is beneath the entry requirements for UCL (AAA, 5 in maths) and LSE (AAB, 6 in maths) would these options still be rather risky? I wouldn't like to take my total viable options down to only 2 if I would be better off replacing one of these options with a safe RG
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all-apologies
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(Original post by OxFossil)
An achieved A*A*A* kicks the 4 in GCSE Maths into touch and stomps all over it. I would be amazed if Oxford declined you an interview on that basis.
Hahahaha I like that image, maths never was my favourite subject! Hopefully you're right, thank you 🙂
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username4979592
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You have to consider *why* unis take account of the grades they do. They look to GCSEs as a predictor of future performance and how it aligns with A Levels, predicted or achieved. This is also combined with Entrance exams for subjects. So, yes, A Levels can cancel out poor GCSE performance (relative to other competing candidates) . This means that your intellectual and academic trajectory has not followed the norm of expected progression. There needs to be a reason behind this that may be discernible to an admissions tutor. We’re your GCSE subjects not your forte- perhaps your grades were worse in Science subjects than Humanities/English? Then show the admissions you are very strong in English - best done with an excellent reference from teacher, great personal statement and excellent admissions exam performance. They need evidence that you have bucked the usual trend. Perhaps you had difficulties at GCSE outside academics- obviously that can be covered by teacher reference. Perhaps you have just matured intellectually. Tutors know this is common. Again your referee and your evidence of excellence in your chosen subject is going to hold the key to that .
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username4979592
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(Original post by all-apologies)
Hahahaha I like that image, maths never was my favourite subject! Hopefully you're right, thank you 🙂
Yes, I think an English admissions tutor *may forgive you for maths, less so for humanities subjects/foreign languages.
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all-apologies
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(Original post by JonSnow’sTies)
You have to consider *why* unis take account of the grades they do. They look to GCSEs as a predictor of future performance and how it aligns with A Levels, predicted or achieved. This is also combined with Entrance exams for subjects. So, yes, A Levels can cancel out poor GCSE performance (relative to other competing candidates) . This means that your intellectual and academic trajectory has not followed the norm of expected progression. There needs to be a reason behind this that may be discernible to an admissions tutor. We’re your GCSE subjects not your forte- perhaps your grades were worse in Science subjects than Humanities/English? Then show the admissions you are very strong in English - best done with an excellent reference from teacher, great personal statement and excellent admissions exam performance. They need evidence that you have bucked the usual trend. Perhaps you had difficulties at GCSE outside academics- obviously that can be covered by teacher reference. Perhaps you have just matured intellectually. Tutors know this is common. Again your referee and your evidence of excellence in your chosen subject is going to hold the key to that .
Okay, thanks for your help 🙂 You hit the nail on the head - I got full marks in English literature and language, with 8/9s in the subjects I took at A level, with my 6s and 4s being sciences and maths. I don't have extenuating circumstance other than being a bit mathematically challenged though...
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username4979592
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It also depends what subjects those 3 A* are in ...
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username4979592
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(Original post by all-apologies)
Okay, thanks for your help 🙂 You hit the nail on the head - I got full marks in English literature and language, with 8/9s in the subjects I took at A level, with my 6s and 4s being sciences and maths. I don't have extenuating circumstance other than being a bit mathematically challenged though...
When you say ‘full marks’ what do you mean exactly?
Top nationwide?
It helps you have your grades already .
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all-apologies
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(Original post by JonSnow’sTies)
When you say ‘full marks’ what do you mean exactly?
Top nationwide?
It helps you have your grades already .
Presumably top (or joint top) because I got 160/160 in both, and I suppose there is a trend there for me then to have got A* in both English Literature and English Language at A level
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all-apologies
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(Original post by JonSnow’sTies)
It also depends what subjects those 3 A* are in ...
English Literature, History, English Language (A EPQ)
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username4979592
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Ok that all sounds great! You were medal-winner? If you are top nationwide for the A-Level subject you are applying to uni for then that’s really a great achievement and should mark you out (I had for one of my other subjects but it was after offers and I don’t think my Uni ever knew about it as application all done n dusted). I doubt I was near top for my lit ALevel, that’s brilliant.
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(Original post by JonSnow’sTies)
Ok that all sounds great! You were medal-winner? If you are top nationwide for the A-Level subject you are applying to uni for then that’s really a great achievement and should mark you out (I had for one of my other subjects but it was after offers and I don’t think my Uni ever knew about it as application all done n dusted). I doubt I was near top for my lit ALevel, that’s brilliant.
Oh no sorry, think there's been a bit of a misunderstanding - I was part of the 'Corona Cohort' and I don't know what mark I got at A level, just the grade (which probably means little now everyone gets their predicted grades, although my school has a poor history of A* for English Literature...) but I do know I got full marks in literature and language GCSEs, for whatever that's worth. I was just trying to demonstrate my best GCSEs were in my A levels and there is a clear track record there of being good at English
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Gotcha - sorry, you are Rona applicant. Still full marks in GCSE nothing to be sniffed at!. I think that still adds value to your application - presumably you/your teacher will make reference to this.
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all-apologies
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(Original post by JonSnow’sTies)
Gotcha - sorry, you are Rona applicant. Still full marks in GCSE nothing to be sniffed at!. I think that still adds value to your application - presumably you/your teacher will make reference to this.
Haha I like Rona applicant - thank you 🙂 My referee mentioned it last time round so I assume they will this year too
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liverninthered
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This link may give you a more definitive answer. In short, GCSEs do not seem too important for English, but could still make or break an application if the rest of the application was borderline.

https://www.mansfield.ox.ac.uk/sites...%202019-20.pdf
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